A Detailed Neuroscientific Framework for the Multiple Intelligences: Describing the Neural Components for Specific Skill Units within Each Intelligence

  •  C. Branton Shearer    


The concept of intelligence has been debated since introduction of IQ tests in the early 1900s. Numerous alternatives to unitary intelligence have achieved limited acceptance and IQ remains the predominant theoretical basis for schooling. Multiple intelligences theory (Gardner, 1983), despite criticism it lacks experimental validity, has had sustained interest by educators worldwide as a means of personalizing instruction and curriculum. The neuroscientific evidence for the intelligences has not been updated since 1983. This investigation reviewed 417 neuroscientific studies examining neural correlates for skill units within seven intelligences. Neural activation patterns demonstrate each skill unit has its own unique neural underpinnings as well as neural features shared with other skill units within its designated intelligence. These patterns of commonality and uniqueness provide richly detailed neural architectures in support of MI theory as a scientific model of human intelligence. This conclusion is supported by four previous studies revealing extensive neural evidence that MI theory distinguishes among ability groups and several cognitive qualities (Shearer and Karanian, 2017). The emerging field of educational cognitive neuroscience strives to bridge the gap between laboratory findings and classroom instruction. MI theory aligns with advances in understanding how the mind and brain interact providing a practical interface between the art of teaching and neuroscience. A neuroscientific model of the multiple intelligences brings us closer to the goal of personalizing education by understanding the unique neuro-cognitive profiles of all students. These findings, coupled with advanced technologies, point the way forward to bring MI-inspired education to all students.

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